Lake Malawi and Tanzania’s war dums: Smart for JB to dstrust Kikwete’s hollow promises


It’s just been reported that due to persisting war-mongering by neighbouring Tanzania despite high level assurance  that contact and dialogue would prevail, Malawi has opted out of further talks and will now seek immediate International Court of Justice (ICJ) intervention in the matter. In this write-up, the authors opine that Tanzania’s commitment to dialogue on the issue was cosmetic from the start, and that Malawi would have saved herself a lot of trouble by referring the matter to the ICJ at the very first sign of Tanzania’s war-mongering.

Part I – Hitler’s lie

In July 1938, Hitler promised Britain’s Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, that he wouldn’t invade Czechoslovakia if he were given control of the Sudetenland. Unless Britain supported Germany‘s plans to take over the Sudetenland, he would invade Czechoslovakia. After discussing the issue with the Edouard Daladier (France) and Eduard Benes (Czechoslovakia), Chamberlain informed Hitler that his proposals were unacceptable.

Although he was caught between a rock and a hard place, Hitler was aware that Britain and France were reluctant to go to war. Italy’s Benito Mussolini showed him the way out by suggesting a four-power conference of Germany, Britain, France and Italy to resolve the deadlock.

This, by design, excluded both Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, hence increasing the possibility of reaching an agreement while undermining solidarity developing against Nazi Germany.

That fateful meeting took place in Munich on 29th September, 1938. Desperate to avoid war, and anxious to avoid an alliance with Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union, Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier agreed that
Germany could’ve the Sudetenland.

In return, Hitler promised not to make any further territorial demands in Europe.

The German Army marched into the Sudetenland on 1st October, 1938. As this area contained nearly all the country’s mountain fortifications, she was no longer able to defend herself against further aggression and by March 1939 the whole of Czechoslovakia was under the control of Germany.

Hitler had lied.lake map

Part II – The Invasion of Kuwait by Iraq

“Less than a week ago, in the early morning hours of August 2d, Iraqi Armed Forces, without provocation or warning, invaded a peaceful Kuwait. Facing negligible resistance from its much smaller neighbour, Iraq’s tanks stormed in blitzkrieg fashion through Kuwait in a few short hours. With more than 100,000 troops, along with tanks, artillery, and surface-to-surface missiles, Iraq now occupies Kuwait. 

“This aggression came just hours after Saddam Hussein specifically assured numerous countries in the area that there would be no invasion. There is no justification whatsoever for this outrageous and brutal act of aggression.” —American President George H. W. Bush’s Address on Iraq’s Invasion of Kuwait (August 8, 1990)

Again, Saddam Hussein had lied.

Common denominators in Parts I and II

Common in both these episodes: Nazi Germany vs. Czechoslovakia and Iraq vs. Kuwaiti is the fact that a more powerful neighbour applies force on a relatively weaker and defenceless neighbour without any real provocation.
While Hitler was eyeing Sudetenland because of its wealth, Saddam wanted to control Kuwaiti oil. And oil – or rather rumours of oil- under Lake Malawi, is the real cause for Tanzania’s unexpected belligerence.

Again, in both the Czechoslovakian and Kuwaiti cases, the weaker nations were caught napping and at the mercy of international morality to prevail while they were being overran by marauders.

Before the Czechs knew what had hit them, Hitler’s panzer divisions were all over Czechoslovakia and before one could cry Lord’ve mercy, Saddam’s tanks were refuelling from the oil-rich pumps of Kuwaiti City.

Part III – Saddam’s WMD (The Lie of the Century)

Iraq’s alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction was the principal reason given by the US and its allies to wage war on Iraq.

The congressional resolution which gave Bush the authority to launch the war, UN Security Council Resolution 1441, and the war resolution adopted by the British Parliament at the behest of Prime Minister Tony Blair, all centred on the dangers of Iraq’s alleged arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, and its active efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Dozens of official statements making the damning allegations were made by US officials of various statures of which we cite only a few:

August 26, 2002: Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to Veterans of Foreign Wars:

“There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

September 18, 2002—Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld speaking to the House Armed Services Committee:

“We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons—including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas.”

October 7, 2002—President Bush declared in a nationally televised speech that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

February 8, 2003—Bush said in his weekly radio address:

“We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

March 16, 2003—Cheney declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referring to Saddam Hussein, “We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

March 17, 2003—in his final pre-war ultimatum, Bush declared:

“Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

March 30, 2003—On ABC’s “This Week” program, 10 days into the war, Rumsfeld reiterated the claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, adding, “We know where they are.”

Despite all this, the said weapons of mass destruction were never found.

And the man whose lies helped a US government to fashion a case for invading Iraq came clean earlier this year. He has since spilled the beans that driven by nothing but a personal agenda, he falsely claimed to have overseen the building of a mobile biological laboratory.

His lies are what were presented as “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence” by Colin Powell, the then US Secretary of State, when making the case for war at the UN Security Council in February 2003.

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, codenamed Curveball by German and American intelligence officials who dealt with his claims, speaking in a BBC 2 series, Modern Spies, categorically revealed that none of it was true.

When it was put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie” his simple reply was: “Yes.”

The Iraq war was a war founded on lies and grand deception.

Fast forward to 2012, the Lake Malawi/Nyasa Tussle:

There has been so much hype in the media and various blogs about military action between Tanzania and Malawi. But all this is misleading. We have never on our part considered that option,” Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete, commenting on vitriolic media reports creating unnecessary fear and tension among the people of the two countries.

“I am the Commander-in-chief and have not given any order for military action. I therefore would like to reassure our people that we have no plans to go to war with our neighbours over this or any other issue that can be resolved diplomatically,” stated President Kikwete in a joint press conference with Malawi’s Joyce Banda in the Mozambican capital, Maputo, on August 17, 2012.

This statement brought relief to both the government and the people of Malawi. What more did they need to be assured that their brothers and sisters across the lake wanted nothing but peace and of course a chunk of Malawi’s water?

Is Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete: the liar of our times?

Meanwhile, cabinet members and senior government officials on the Tanzanian side have been doing very little to live up to their president’s commitment to peace. They have been at it in Tanzania, hyping up public sentiment against Malawi, as if the lake conflict started yesterday and as if a Tanzanian has ever been stopped from drawing water or fishing in the lake by a Malawian.

Bernard-MembeMembe, Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs Minister

A Government delegation led by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Hon. Bernard K. Membe (MP) was early September deployed to the Ruvuma Region reportedly “to brief the locals on the on-going negotiations over the border dispute with Malawi.”

The delegation, which included members of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF), the President’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development and the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports visited and talked to Wananchi (elders) in Mbamba Bay, Liuli, Lituhi Wards in the New Nyasa District and Songea District.

In a deliberately stage-managed and charged gatherings, several elders paraded to comment on the issue even as the Malawian and Tanzanian delegations were yet to meet again.

One Mzee Daudi Haule Kitanji (88) went to the extent of calling Malawians liars and that “we are ready to testify before the International Court of Justice (ICJ),” as another Mzee Conrad Chale intoned:

“If she doesn’t want to talk, then let us get engaged,” meaning the people were ready for any eventuality, including military confrontation.

Another elder, Kitanji reminded the minister that they were the descendants of the Maji Maji War nationalist warriors “who kicked the Germans out of this country. Can we really now be beaten by Malawi?” he asked.
What the Malawians are claiming, said Mzee Ferdinand Ngatunga of Lituhi, was very similar to what Dictator Idi Amin did 33 years ago.

“We threw Amin out and he ended up dying in exile in Saudi Arabia. Does this grand-daughter of (Kamuzu) Banda (President Joyce Banda) want us to do the same to her?” he asked.

Can one say these goings-on are in tandem with a government negotiating in good faith?

Was President Kikwete speaking the truth in Maputo?

Again, while his Malawian counterpart was and has been very careful with her statements on this issue having committed to give a dialogue a chance, President Kikwete on his part turned himself into plaintiff, the judge and the jury on the matter.

In his monthly address to his countrymen at the end of the month of August, he unilaterally trashed the Anglo-German Treaty of 1890 – Malawi’s basis for the sole ownership of Lake Malawi going on to say Tanzania has every reason to demand it be corrected.

The operative word is “demand.”

Not a very wise presidential statement if the effort to resolve the matter diplomatically was in earnest. But if of course, Tanzania was merely going through the notions, then like a stamp and a letter it all fits together.

To crown it all, and to clear all doubt that Tanzania was bent on annexing what is historically Malawi’s; towards the end of September 2012 the Tanzanian Government unilaterally released a new map that shows the disputed boundary between Tanzania and Malawi to be in the middle of Lake Nyasa.

Tanzania’s Director of Survey and Mapping at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, a Dr Selasie Mayunga, told the Tanzanian press that the new map clears up any “confusion” about who has the right to exploit Lake Nyasa resources.

The word resources should read “oil”.

Unless Tanzania is agitating for something, these sort of manoeuvres at a time when negotiations are underway more than demonstrate the fact that Tanzania is not negotiating in good faith.
Head to head: Malawi and Tanzania

According to various sources, Tanzania boasts of a military force of 100, 000 strong against Malawi’s 20,000.
Again, the Taifa Army has been the aggressor before, whereas the Malawi Army – much acknowledged for professionalism world-over – would never hurt a mosquito.

On paper and in numbers, Tanzania is to Malawi what Hitler’s Germany was to Czechoslovakia and what Saddam’s Iraq was to Kuwaiti.

But the question is: is it really necessary that the two countries, whose people (the majority) before “The Scramble for Africa” belonged to the Maravi Tribe, should today be at loggerheads over oil – the real issue under contention?

Whither to Malawi?

Even if the founding president of Malawi isn’t acknowledged as a wise man, the wisdom contained in his “contact and dialogue” policy has never been questioned.

But we have tried that, and our Taifa brethren are opting for duplicity; something our founding president alluded to as “jelly fish” behaviour.

What next? The matter will of course be easily settled by the ICJ. Somehow our brothers and sisters from across the lake didn’t seem to be very keen on going this route.

They would rather consult “elders”, unilaterally produce maps and talk war. What are they afraid of? Their case is wobbly, a non-starter for reasons they know very well about. That is why since 1967 they have never gone to court.

Should the ICJ decision go against them, it will be final. Any war-mongering statements directed at Malawi will attract world-wide condemnation and what it entails.

Our message to Tanzania: no country in recent history has benefited from unwarranted aggression and unwarranted aggression is exactly what Tanzania has been doing in its positioning and statements over Lake Malawi.

Again, no war has permanently solved any crisis. And more importantly Tanzania’s seeming military might notwithstanding, no race has ever been for the swift nor a battle only for the strong.

One final word: as a nation we ought to be aware that being caught napping isn’t an option. We should at all times be mindful of the ‘promises and lies’ coming from across. Let us take sabre-rattling Tanzania’s ‘promises and lies’ for what they are and there will be no surprises along the way.

ICJ here we come!


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